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Murphy keeps Graff's seat warm his way

December 12, 2002|by BOB PARASILITI

The seat cushion might be toasty, but interim or not, Murphy is back. That competitive edge is still there, the one that made the Wildcats' boys one of the best programs in Western Maryland over the years.

The seat can't be that warm because Murphy keeps standing up and giving directions, along with his son and assistant coach Kevin.

And while he substitutes for the recovering Graff, the Wildcats' girls are learning to do things the Murphy way, with stingy defense and funamental offensive plays to score the easiest way possible.

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Take note, because Williamsport swept through its first two games against North and South Hagerstown. The Wildcats averaged 55 points in the two games while allowing just 23 in each contest.

"We are running the same stuff we always did," Murphy said Monday after Williamsport posted a 60-23 win over the Rebels. "I got my son Kevin and Chris Malott helping me out. They get in there and know our system and are able to teach the girls and they are picking it up."

And maybe the biggest reason why Murphy is enjoying such success so quickly with the Wildcats is he is oblivious to the situation.

"I'm not coaching boys or girls. I'm coaching players," Murphy said. "We are trying to do what we can with the talent we have and adjusting to what they are able to do. I took the job because I thought it would be a challenge to see what we could do."

Williamsport's girls have had a number of successful years under Graff, who took a leave of absence from the team because of his health problems. Murphy was asked to come in in a pinch to coach until Graff could get back, but he wasn't exactly sure of what was ahead.

"I'll be honest, though. I haven't watched much girls basketball. My daughter played at Williamsport and I took interest, but most of the time, the boys played at the same time the girls did. I'm no expert at it."

Apparently, Murphy doesn't have to be because in 25 days of practice, his fingerprints are all over the Wildcats' play. The defensive tenacity and trapping style is the same as it was with Williamsport's boys. So are the passes to the inside players, who are able to use the dropstep post move to get a shot at the basket.

Meanwhile, Murphy has been pulling in the reigns on his intensity, keeping a lot of things in perspective.

"I guess it comes from being a little bit older," Murphy said. "It's like the new and improved coach Murphy. The girls have heard all the stories about me from their brothers and they are waiting for the explosion. But I have been able to dial it down and that's nice. I get too intense for my own good, so dialing it down benefits everyone."

Murphy calmly puts the Wildcats through the paces and waits for the return of Graff. It may be Graff's team, but there are parts of Williamsport that looks like Murphy all the way.

"I'm still learning about the girls and they are learning about me," Murphy said. "I always brought an intensity to the floor for games and the kids do it, too. They always say a team is a reflection of its coach, so if that's the mirror of me, I like it.

"We are teaching and just showing patience. (The girls) have been great and listen to everything we tell them. I'm serious when I say I don't know what to expect, so I just ask them to play hard and execute. That will be fine."

And it will give Kevin Murphy a comfortable feeling while keeping Graff's chair warm.

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